Scarlett Johansson issues furious public statement

Hollywood A-lister Scarlett Johansson has issued a furious public statement, accusing the company OpenAI of using a voice that’s “eerily similar” to hers in the latest version of ChatGPT.

In the lengthy statement, first published by NPR, Johansson claimed that OpenAI CEO Sam Altman had approached her last year to ask her to voice the new AI voice assistant.

She said that “after much consideration and for personal reasons”, she rejected the offer.

She claimed that Altman again reached out to her agent in the days before the new voice assistant was released to see if she would change her mind. She says that before she had a chance to respond, the voice “Sky” was released – which sounded very familiar.

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine that my closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference,” she said in the statement.

Johansson said the likeness appeared intentional, with Altman tweeting the single word “her” upon Sky’s release – also the name of a 2013 movie in which Johansson voiced a chat system with whom the protagonist (Joaquin Phoenix) develops a close relationship.

“In a time when we are all grappling with deepfakes and the protection of our own likeness, our own work, our own identities, I believe these are questions that deserve absolute clarity,” Johansson said her statement.

“I look forward to resolution in the form of transparency and the passage of appropriate legislation to help ensure that individual rights are protected.”

OpenAI announced on Sunday that it had paused the use of the “Sky” voice, but insisted that it was in fact the voice of another actress and had no intentional similarity to Johansson.

“We believe that AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice — Sky’s voice is not an imitation of Scarlett Johansson but belongs to a different professional actress using her own natural speaking voice,” the company wrote.

This isn’t the first time Johansson has waged a public war against a large company: Back in 2021, she sued film studio Disney over their release of her film Black Widow, claiming that the Marvel movie’s debut on Disney+ was a breach of her contract. The two parties later reached a settlement, the terms of which were not publicly disclosed. Johansson had sought a $US50 million payout from the studio.

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